A day after the European Parliament elections, Pope Francis issued his annual message on migrants and said the attitude that they are the source of all of society’s ills “is an alarm bell warning of the moral decline” the world faces, TIME reports.
Francis said the presence of migrants in wealthy countries is instead an invitation “to recover some of those essential dimensions of our Christian existence and our humanity.”
Officials stressed that Francis’ message was not political but pastoral and the Vatican did not comment on the European Parliament vote. But some church leaders weighed in.
At a press conference launching the migrant message Monday, the head of the European conference of Catholic bishops, Luxembourg Archbishop Jean-Claude Hollerich, said the results of the European Parliament vote “would have been worse” if Francis and the Catholic Church hadn’t consistently stood up for migrants.
The leader of Italy’s right-wing populist League party, Matteo Salvini, is firmly anti-migrant and his party came in first in Italy’s EU vote.